Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Leaders of the Old School - Why Black Lawmakers are Mum on Maryland ...

Back to our favorite Senate race, where we're hoping for an all Black Senate-bid in 2006. We're like political Don Kings salivating at the thought of a historic heavyweight clash. Yet, Mfume doesn't seem that heavy weight when it comes to money, writes Jonathan Kaplan in The Hill:

Despite Mfume’s his national reputation, he has not been able to raise a substantial amount of money. He had just $97,000 in cash at the end of the third quarter, while Cardin had raked in more than $1.5 million.

Among lawmakers, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) gave Cardin $10,000 from his PAC and $4,000 from his personal campaign. Reps. Gary Ackerman (N.Y.), Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), Joe Crowley (N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.) have contributed to Cardin.

None has given to Mfume.

This raises more disturbing questions about the fundraising prowess of the Black political establishment. Even though the African American electorate is in a much better, more solid position to run for statewide offices, there is still a major problem when it comes to fundraising - though Black people spend enough money to match South Korea's GDP. This is what Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's former 2004 Presidential campaign manager and now Mfume advisor, had to say:

Joe Trippi, who ran Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004 and is advising Mfume, said Mfume’s campaign would attract white, progressive voters in Montgomery County and other parts of the state, in part by presenting himself as the anti-war candidate.

Cardin could also claim that mantle. He voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002.
Trippi did not say what steps Mfume is taking to reach out to white voters but instead attacked Cardin.

“All Cardin has been doing is basically trying to force everyone else out of the race,” Trippi said. “He’s raising money, picking off endorsements, but that has not worked. It’s not going to happen for him.”

If Mfume is relying solely on Trippi as his ace guru to win the primary, he might as well hang it up.

We also found the observed silence from Congressional Black Caucus members as intriguing as it is deafening. It also shows the set of usual suspects clinging on to the usual strategy, giving more thought to pleasing the party apparatus than considering another Black Senator could be an asset. Why is that? Kaplan continues:

Cardin has emerged as the favorite in an expanding field of Democratic candidates, but a recent Baltimore Sun poll showed Mfume trumping Cardin by 48 points among black voters, 63 to 15 percent, even though the two candidates were in a statistical dead heat. White voters overwhelmingly backed Cardin in the poll.

CBC members face a tough choice between their colleague and Mfume, a national black leader and former congressman, who are seeking to succeed retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). The primary will be held Sept. 12, 2006.

The winner is expected to face Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R), who is African-American. The Sun poll found that Steele would beat Mfume but would lose to Cardin by 11 points.

Judging from the latest poll, Steele wins in a Mfume v. Steele bout. Alright - so he's a Black Republican. Steele has announced that if he won, he'd join the CBC. If that were to happen, wouldn't that prove useful as leverage to CBC members looking to maneuver through Republican-controlled chambers? And, if Mfume or Steele won, then you'd have more than just one face of color in the Senate. Obviously, watching the latest Baltimore Sun polls, the feeling may be that a White Democrat in Maryland is better than a Black Republican; plus, the prevailing mood amongst Democrats on the Hill is that they'll snag the House and Senate back in 2006 - very cocky for a party with no platform less than a year away from the mid-terms. Shouldn't the CBC rethink this?